Eric Warner Staff Writer
In collaboration with the Office of Equity and Diversity and the Unity Wing, the J. Eugene Smith Library is currently organizing a Human Library event for students during the fall semester. Before the rapid outbreak of the Coronavirus in Connecticut and the subsequent cancellation of all campus events by the university, this event was slated to occur on Tuesday, Apr. 7, but is now being prepared for a fall occurrence at a currently unknown specific date and time.
The Human Library is a global initiative to better communities with an understanding of diversity, in order to help create more inclusive and cohesive societies across cultural, religious, social and ethnic differences. Through this movement, people from all walks of life can come together to challenge prejudices and help make the world a better one through conversations. These conversations are personified by Human Books, individuals typically from marginalized or stereotyped groups, who share their stories and experiences with anyone who would be willing to hear them. Readers or audience members get to sit down with any of these individuals during the Human Library event to ask them questions, listen to their stories, or have a conversation with them about difficult issues that they themselves might never have. First created in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2000 by Ronni Abergel, the inclusive movement has influenced people from over 80 countries and across six continents during the organization’s 20-year existence.
Those who are interested in visiting the Human Library at Eastern this Fall, will find a list of books available to them and readers, with assistance from librarians, and will get to choose a book to learn from. After some time, readers will be moved to a table in a designated reading room where multiple conversations will be held simultaneously. All conversations last up to half an hour.
Books comprising this Human Library will be students, faculty and staff who have volunteered to share their experience with judgment and speak out to break down barriers based on race, religion, sexual orientation, class, gender, identity, life choices, disability, and other aspects of life. The Human Library provides the Eastern Connecticut State University populace with the opportunity to share and understand the experiences of others and ultimately grow into a stronger community. Angela Walker, a Librarian at the J. Eugene Smith Library and lead for this event had this to say about the Human Library movement, “People should come for the rare chance to learn about the unique life circumstances of their fellow human beings to promote tolerance and understanding.” Any university students, professors, or faculty members who would be interested in in telling their stories of perseverance as Human Books can look up the university’s Human Library guide at https://easternct.libguides.com/humanlibrary, which explains the event in more detail including the Human Book Application Form itself. For more information about the event, readers can contact Angela Walker through her email, firstname.lastname@example.org, as well as visit the Human Library’s official website at www.humanlibrary.org. Information for the exact location, date, and time for the event will be announced in the coming months.